Why your current or future relationship should pass the Idaho Litmus Test

 

Idaho-sign-2-e1372823982429This post has been inspired by recent conversations about relationships, by no means am I a relationship expert (nor would I EVER claim to be), but this test has proved to work in my own life and in the lives of people I love.

Some people have gotten married as a result of it and some people have broken up… So read at your own risk;)

Relationships can be incredibly confusing- and sometimes seem very complicated-

Should we keep dating?

Should I marry this person?

Are they right for me?

(Fill in the blank with your question here…)

Instead of asking the questions above- how would you answer the question:

Would I move to Idaho with this person?

 Depending on how you answer that question will then most likely answer the previous questions…

This litmus test for relationships is not by any means my original theory or content- it comes from my best friend Rebecca Hedger (shout out!) who asked me that question about 6 years ago now, when I was in a very serious relationship where I was almost married. On paper this man was, and I am sure still is incredible. He blew every other guy out of the water on paper, and yet something in my heart wasn’t convinced.

I called my friend Rebecca, bawling one night confused, I didn’t know what to do.

She then asked me one question, that somehow cut through my chaos…

Would you move to Idaho with him?

I had no clue what she was talking about! “Rebecca what do you mean would I move to Idaho with him?!”

Rebecca: “Would you move to Idaho with him, does that sound fun to you?”

She then began to unpack what we now affectionately call the Idaho Litmus Test.

She then asked me, again “Would you want to move to a random, obscure town in Idaho with this person?”

At first I thought she was crazy, but then it made perfect sense…

She began to explain…

When you take away that person’s ministry position, or their job status, or the friend group they are a part of, or the cool city where you go on expensive dates, or when you take away all of the props (fill in your prop here)

Do you still want to be with raw them?

 Is raw you and raw them a good idea?

You have to drive 20 hours to get to Idaho- just you and this person, is the road trip fun? are you talking? Do you have things to talk about? Are you laughing? or are you bored?

Do you connect in a deep way spiritually and emotionally or are the entertaining dates, concerts, or activities propping you up?

Would the idea of having to restart somewhere without your friends or family as a support system still be enjoyable because you love being with that person for who they are that much?

We all probably have gotten into relationships for the wrong reasons at times, but the Idaho Litmus Test cuts through the fluff and the superficial reasons we may be in them.

Now does it have to be Idaho where you think about moving? No, we just used Idaho because it’s kind of that state no one talks about, and it doesn’t seem that exciting (sorry if you love Idaho) You can fill in the blank of any random place instead of Idaho…

Maybe Northwest Territories in Canada (brrrr) or a small town in the Himalayas, or a hut in Africa…

The bottom line is this- when all of the familiar is removed, do you still want to be with and love this person truly for who they ARE, and not for any other reason?

When everything external is removed, does love remain?

The Idaho litmus test took on new meaning when recently I drove through Idaho for the first time!

It was so cold, there wasn’t a ton happening- but you could buy a house for $18,000! (Redemptive)

Let’s just say it wouldn’t be my first pick of places to live!:)

Of course this is somewhat comical, but trust me a simple question like, “Would you want to move to Idaho with this person?” Could reveal more of what’s really in your heart than you expected!

I know it did for me… and my simple No, to that question changed the way my life went from that moment on.

Is this over simplistic? Probably, but I think it’s a good place to start!

After you have asked yourself this question, then go to the next level and read Tim Keller’s book Meaning of Marriage. It will pop any bubbles you may be living in from being discipled by Disney (like I was) You can thank me later!:)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Vulnerability, And Why You Can’t Really Live Without It

lockedheart

I’ve recently made a decision in my life-

I would rather be vulnerable and real, and look like a fool, than live closed up and afraid and save face.

See for most of my life I fought being real.

For most of my life- I learned how not to be vulnerable. Because to be vulnerable somehow seemed to portray that you are weak… and who wants to be seen as weak in a culture that values being strong, well put together, and perfect?

It’s been a journey for me to be real. (Ask anyone who knew me when I was 18) It’s been Jesus leading me along a pathway of healing to learn to be vulnerable, and to be ok with who I am, and where I am at- even if it’s a little bit messy.

I have this vivid memory from over 12 years ago now. It was the day after I found out my family was falling apart. I was 18- and I felt numb. I had cried more tears than I could ever count, and the only picture I can use to describe how I felt besides numb was it was like someone kicked me in the stomach numerous times and I was still trying desperately to find some air. (Ever have one of those moments?) I hope you haven’t.

I call it the pivotal moments in life where everything you once thought you knew- suddenly isn’t, and you know deep down your whole life is about to drastically change.

Well… the day after I got the news, I went to College- and one of my best friends saw me and said- “Hey are you ok?” “Me?” I answered. “Ya of course I’m fine” The funny thing about this is I really thought I was fine. Or I had convinced myself that I was- and I certainly wasn’t about to let anyone think I wasn’t fine.

Because that’s what life’s about right? Being strong- well put together- and well, fine… (or not)

Through years of trying to portray that  I was “fine” Strong, capable, and well put together- at about the age of 25 I suddenly realized I was good at looking “fine” on the outside and on the inside my heart was a mess.

What’s interesting- is at the time I realized my heart was a mess- on the outside I was rockin it for someone my age. At the time I was in full time ministry, and had the opportunity to preach in front of hundreds, sometimes thousands of people. It was insane, especially because I knew it was only because of God, and I grew up being terrified of speaking in small groups let alone crowds.

On the outside life was good, I was in my power ally, I had amazing friends, and things were only on the up and up…

Well it was at that time that God asked me to step down from it all…

Wait What? That makes zero sense right?! I fought it for awhile until it became unbearably clear that God was in fact asking me to step down from it all.

It made no sense in the moment- but now with a smile on my face I can see His incredible and amazing wisdom.

See- I used to preach on mainly One Thing- the “Jealousy of God” That God was after ALL of our hearts, and He would do whatever it takes to get it, because of how much He loves us.

Allen Hood- One of my favorite preachers used to say “Listen to the message you preach, because God will have you live it out.”

In the months and years following my decision to step down from the platform- it’s been hard to tell you the truth. Hard because I’ve had to face my heart and what’s inside it without all the props, and it hasn’t been an easy journey.

At times I’ve told God He doesn’t care- that His ways are not good- and yet recently through an incredibly honest and difficult conversation where I was maybe the most vulnerable I have ever been- I realized wow- I’ve come a long way.

I suddenly felt courageous, and emboldened- not because of how the other person responded to what I was saying, but because I felt like my heart was alive- could feel- and I was being authentically myself.

It’s been a crazy journey of wading through voices-What do other people think about me, what do they think I should do? What does culture say I should do and be?

But I find myself suddenly caring a lot less. It’s too much work, and exhausting to live life that way- trust me I have done it for almost 30 years.

I’ve decided life is too short to not live and be authentic and real- to not live from your heart- Because if your not living from your heart what’s the point? (Isn’t that the place where the Holy Spirit lives anyways?)

I’m not proposing some mystical, movie like- live from your heart without reason kind of way of life-

But what I am proposing is living a life that dares to wade through all the hurts and disappointments, failures, and expectations, and rises up and decides to be present- and encounters Jesus in that place.

I’m talking about a heart that gives God everything.

My favorite people in the world are real. They don’t necessarily have all the answers- they aren’t always well put together- but in their ability to be authentic is where I can relate to them, and connect with them.

I think it’s when we dare to be real, that we can really encounter God and find friendship with others.

It’s in the moments when I’m gut honest with God, when I don’t pretend anymore to have it all together- that I feel His love rush in the most.

For didn’t Jesus come for the broken? The ones who weren’t “Fine” ?

I used to despise weakness. I used to judge others, because they were weak- until I realized I was too. It was then that my heart broke and I found compassion- not until I dared to admit I wasn’t “fine”

I know from reading the Bible that Jesus never came for people who thought they were ok- because those who did think they were ok were called Pharisees, and we all know how much He liked them:)

Jesus came for the broken, for the weak, for the needy- and I dare to say that means all of us-

Because if we dared to be honest- we would all have to admit that we are in need of something. That we don’t have it all together though we may look like we do.

When we finally dare to be real, gut honest, vulnerable with God is when we can finally find freedom for our walled up, hurt and aching hearts.

Jesus died for you, and for your whole heart to be His. 

He wants to come and take down every wall you have built up, and show you that His love is greater than any wall, any amount of hurt, disappointment or failure you have endured.

I love Romans 8: 31-37.31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be  against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? 33 Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. 34 Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? 36 As it is written,“For your sake we are being killed all the day long;we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.” 37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Nothing can separate you from Him. His love is greater. His love is able to overcome your objections, and your walls.

I only say that, because that’s what He’s done for me, and He’s still doing.

He’s taking down my walls, He’s healing me of my disappointments- and in exchange I’m finding His love, and that I am becoming more authentically myself.

Dare to embrace the journey of not being “fine” and invite Jesus into those places of your heart. I promise you on the other side is so much more freedom, and life that you have been longing for.

What I learned from the 2600 degree furnace

pottery

For the month of May, I took a pottery class with a friend. Why? Well, a couple of reasons: First being I decided that 2015 will be the year of risks, and trying new things, and 2. I decided getting your hands dirty, and having a creative outlet is always a good thing.

Well, pottery proved to be a little more difficult than expected, but I had a blast doing it. My clay rarely wanted to cooperate, and the mistakes I made were probably more prevalent than my successes. All in all, mangled mug and all,  I would recommend it to anyone to give it a shot.

As i was embarking on this new experience, my mind as cliche as it is went to these familiar verses:

“But now, O Lord, you are our Father; we are the clay, and you are our potter; we are all the work of your hand.” (Isaiah 64:8)

“Woe to him who strives with him who formed him, a pot among earthen pots! Does the clay say to him who forms it, ‘What are you making?’ or ‘Your work has no handles’? (Isaiah 45:9)

Here’s what I learned as an amateur potter:

1. The clay can only go where I make it go- It won’t be formed into anything unless I shape it.

2.  At first the clay is hard and incredibly resistant to anything I want it to do.

3. As much as the clay may wish to leave the pressure from my hands, or the wheel, it can’t unless I choose to take it off.

4. After everything is said and done- the clay goes into a kiln with 2600 degree temperature. (Makes me wonder how hot the furnace was for Shadrach, Meeshach and Abednego- YIKES)

I was reminded of how incredibly resistant I can be in the hands of the Lord- and yet, even in the midst of my resistance He always has a way of forming me and shaping me in the process. (I am sure I could make it easier on myself most times)

I was reminded how little control I really have over my own life. God is the One who initiates, and God is the One who orchestrates my times and seasons. I think most days, I think I am so big and in control, and really I am just as weak and dependent as that lump of clay.

The temperature of the kiln shocked me, and yet it struck my heart how often I despise the fire of God, when He turns up the heat in my life. (When I feel pain, when things don’t go the way I thought they would or should) and yet I was reminded that unless the clay goes into that insanely hot furnace it won’t come out beautiful and complete.

How often I despise the leadership of the Lord when it’s uncomfortable, and yet He’s trying to work something beautiful in me and through me.

I am grateful that He is the potter, and I am the clay. I’m learning to accept my dependence, and trusting that He will form me into something more beautiful and useful for His kingdom and His purposes than I could have planned.

He’s forming something beautiful in you today- instead of resisting it- how can you embrace it and learn to depend on Him as your potter a little more today?

How 90’s worship music galvanized my heart back to reality

church

A couple weeks ago, I was hanging out with my amazing friends on our Monday night tradition- that we have affectionately coined “Wine and Theology” Night- Basically it means we eat an amazing meal together, drink a glass of red wine, talk about Jesus, and top it off with listening to an Amy Grant record-  (no joke)

Well- instead of the usual Amy Grant rendition of her early songs we listened to worship music from Wow 2000, or it may have been 1999:)

We basically took a little ride on the flashback train of worship, and my heart suddenly went back to that time in my life when I was 15 years old and in youth group.

As we listened to Sonic Flood, “I’m coming back to the heart of worship” and “Hungry” from the Vineyard CD from 1999 my heart was struck.

I was reminded of how simple, how raw my devotion to Jesus was then. I had grown up in the church my whole life, but it was at the age of 15 that my faith in God became real. My heart was hungry for more of Jesus. I wanted to read His word, I wanted to worship in my room when no one was looking. I bawled my face off at the altar. I had a hunger that was real and was propelling me forward.

The only word I can use to describe that time was it was simple.

I didn’t know all the theology I know today, I wasn’t as opinionated or set in my ways. I hadn’t been hurt yet by people in the church or been through many trials yet. I was just hungry for a man named Jesus. I didn’t care about anything else but knowing Him.

As I listened to the blast from the past worship, my heart ached to return to the simplicity of raw devotion to Jesus. I felt the Lord beckoning me to return to the simplicity of just loving Him- of not having to have all the answers, or all my ducks in a row, but to simply love Him in the mess, in the questions, in the pain, in the confusion of life and everything in between.

It really is all about Him.

“He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.16 For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. 17 And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. 19 For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.” (Colossians 1:15-21)

Colossians 1 is one of my favorite Bible passages, because it galvanizes my heart back into the truth- that everything is about Jesus.

Everything exists- because of Jesus.

Everything is upheld- because of Jesus

Everything is led- By Jesus

Everything is for- Jesus.

Without Him- nothing would exist, and the air I breathe and take for granted for on a daily basis would not be in my lungs.

We exist because of Him- and for Him. It really is that simple.

Trust me, I know it can feel way more complicated than that most days.

But what if it really was simple? What if it really was about giving Him our hearts- and loving Him simply and authentically- Not for what we can “get” from Him or for what He can “do” for us, but simply because He is God, and He is worthy.

How would this change the way we live?

What if we brought it back to as the Sonic flood song heart of worship song says “It’s all about You Jesus…”

Today in the craziness, in the questions, in the ups and downs of life- dare to go back to the simplicity of loving Him- or just remind your heart again that it’s why you exist.

It’s only in His presence that our questions will be answered, and only in His gaze that our hearts will find its rest.

What I learned in that crazy, confusing, wild and fun decade called my 20’s.

20s

Wow, I myself can hardly believe that I am 30 years old, probably because I have been in denial for months now that it was actually going to happen.

Thirty was the year my mom was, not the year I was going to ever get to. I can distinctly remember a conversation with another kid when I was in the second grade about how old our parents were. I was seven at the time, and my mom was 30. We were both in awe thinking about how ancient that sounded. It was the year that felt light years away.

Well here I am, my mom’s age. It happened. I got there. Just like we all do, we get older. I know when I’m 50 I will think I was such a young duck at 30. My grandpa who is 84 right now likes to keep reminding me of how young I am;)

In reflecting on the last decade, 10 years is a long time- and yet a very short time. I have been in awe of all God has done in my life.

I’ve been privileged to have had some pretty incredible opportunities. I worked at a radio station, lived in the middle of America (Kansas City) where I fell in love with Jesus and His Word, I’ve travelled across the United States doing ministry with some of my best friends, I’ve met some of my heroes of the faith, stood on crazy platforms (where I have no clue how I even was allowed to be handed the microphone), graduated from University, lived in Hawaii, and made some of the most incredible friends.

The resume for my 20’s could be seen as pretty epic on paper, but what I am most thankful for is what God has produced in me on the inside, and the stuff no resume could ever show.

To be honest, coming close to my 30th birthday was a little depressing. Though I have had some great accomplishments in my 20’s it was as if I could only see where I still had missed the bar that I had set up for myself of where I “should” be at 30. Without going into great detail, let’s just say I felt like I was failing in all the ways of what I considered “success” to look like at 30. In my mind, I had a big L, written on my forehead.

It was a few weeks before my birthday, that someone challenged me on my measurement bar of success, and I realized that yet again I was measuring myself by the worlds standards, or my own measuring stick, and not the Lord’s.

What impacted me the most from the conversation was, this person said to me, “You are so successful because you have loved Jesus for 30 years, you have history with Him now that you didn’t before.” It was the shock to my system I needed to shift my perspective.

It was then that I realized my perspective needed to shift big time. I was looking on the outside still, wanting to show the world how “awesome” I was at 30, and God was wanting to remind me yet again of what He cares about. My heart.

As I shifted the lens of how I looked at success at 30, or what I “produced” in my 20’s what I started to see was the kindness and faithfulness of God woven throughout my 20’s.

I started to see His sovereignty, His leadership, His grace, and the way He was answering my prayers all along, just not always in ways I would have chosen.

I began to see how He took my sincere hunger to know Him and had been leading me down a path to produce rich and mature love.

When I was 21, I distinctly remember praying some radical prayers. My heart cry was just “I want to love Jesus with everything. “I want to know you God!” “Be my one thing” I sang every Misty Edwards song about being tested and tried, proved and refined like gold. I sang so many songs and prayed so many prayers with sincerity and zeal, a longing to know this Man named Jesus.

My heart still felt so distant from Him, but my hunger was real.

My cry was for mature love, to really know God, but I didn’t know what that would mean.

I thought the way into what I wanted was ease, good quiet times, singing my favorite worship songs, and coffee with my like-minded friends.

What I have found to be true over the last 10 years is some of that (well except a little less of the ease part) but mostly it’s come through pain, lots of tears, lots of not knowing what God was doing, lots of choosing to say yes to God when it was hard, reading my Bible when all I wanted to do was watch netflix to escape, and choosing to believe God is good when my circumstances are screaming the opposite.

The way I thought God would lead my heart into love, was not the way He chose. I haven’t always understood His ways, but I can honestly say I am so grateful.

Even though I have had some pretty confusing and tear filled seasons in the last decade, I can honestly say God answered my prayers that I had as a 21 year old.

I can honestly say I love Him more than I did then. I know Him more, because I have had more time to walk with Him, to trust Him, to see Him come through for me, to bring me peace when all I felt was confusion.

Somewhere along the way over these last 10 years I started to really love Him, not for what He could do for me or how He could bless me, but just because of who He is.

I’ve found that Jesus really is the Kindest One I know. He is incredibly patient, and loving, and He has no lack or inability to do anything. I’ve found He is sovereign and unbelievably good. Somewhere over the last 10 years He became real to me, and more than the Man on the page I had read about in my Bible for so many years.

In reflecting I thought, what would I tell my 20 year old self? or someone else who is embarking on the decade of their 20’s.

It would be this: fall in love with Jesus, and His Word. I am so thankful for the hours I sowed in the Word in my early 20’s that I know I am still reaping. The Bible is real, and changes your heart and your emotions. It’s alive. It’s a foundation you will never be sorry for building. (Even when it’s boring!)

Pray. (A lot) Just talk to God, in focused times, and throughout the mundane times of your day.

Get some good friends who will preach truth to you, when you can’t preach it to yourself.

Find Godly and wise people older than you to speak into your life and tell you about the journey ahead.

I would say to not give up. To keep trusting, to keep believing, because He really is worth it, no matter what comes. No matter what circumstances kick you in the stomach, no matter what other people tell you. Jesus really is worth it.

He’s worth every tear, every heartbreak, every loss, and every disappointment.

He’s better than any thrill of being on a big platform, or having the nicest things.

I would tell myself at 20, He is never going to leave you. He will be your faithful friend through it all, and you can trust Him- even when you feel like you can’t.

Well, it happened, and I’m 30.

I have a grateful heart. I have excitement for what’s ahead because I have learned more than ever to find God in the process. Life really is a process until the day we see His face. It’s about finding Jesus in every situation. The highs, the lows and everything in between.

I’m excited to find Him in this next decade, and by His grace I will love Him more at 40 than I do at 30.

Jesus, the God of HOPE.

hope

Bill Johnson says, “Any area of your life that doesn’t have hope is under the influence of a lie.”

Is there any area of life where you feel like you have lost hope?

Is it in Finances? Relationships? A situation you just don’t think will ever change? Lost dreams?

It’s easy to get discouraged in life, but I believe God wants us to live lives full of hope because that’s who He is, a God of Hope.

Worldy hope, is kind of like wishful thinking. Oh I hope this happens, or that happens, “I hope it doesn’t rain today” I hope that I get the grade I want in school” but Biblical hope is not wishful thinking, it is a strong confidence, it means to anticipate, welcome a proper expectation of something that is sure and certain.

We can have hope, because Jesus is filled with Hope, and He is leading our lives. He is able to fulfill every promise He has spoken over our lives.

We can learn a lesson about hope from the life of Abraham…

Romans 4:17-21

“As it is written, I have made you the father of many nations, in the presence of the God whom he believed, who gives life to the dead and calls into existence the things that do not exist. In hope He believed against hope, that he should become the father of many nations, as he has been told. So shall your offspring be. He did not weaken in faith when he considered his own body, which was as good as dead (since was about a hundred years old) or when he considered the barreness of Sarahs womb. No distrust made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in faith as he gave glory to God. Fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised.”

Here’s Abraham, 100 years old, God says He is going to have a son, and yet in every way it looks crazy and impossible. I can picture the expression on Abraham’s face when He heard this from God. “Ummm are you sure about this…God?” My wife is barren, and let’s be honest we are both really too old to be having children.

From the ordinary human standpoint there was no hope- Abraham was old, his wife was barren. Biblical hope is never based on what is possible with man, “Biblical hope looks away from man and to the promise of God.” – Johnson

If we are in Christ we should be full of hope, because we are In Christ, the God who is Hope.

Jesus is never hopeless. He is always full of Hope, always believing the best about our futures. If you were to look into His eyes right now and see the expression on His face about the situation you feel hopeless about, what do you think He would say? Would He be hopeless? Or would He have a smile on His face and His heart filled with love and confidence?

Jesus is the God of Hope. He is the One who comes into seemingly impossible hopeless situations, where there is no answer in the natural, where all resources have been exhausted, and He breathes life. He brings hope to the hopeless.

There are multiple stories that we can find in the gospels where Jesus brings hope and life to seemingly impossible and hopeless situations.

From healing the blind, to casting out demons to raising the dead, Jesus steps into the impossible and He brings hope, and life.

My favorite example is found in the events surrounding the death and resurrection of Jesus. The very event that all of our hope hinges on- Jesus being raised from the dead.

For the apostles it had to be the most confusing and terrifying time. All of their hope had been in the coming Messiah. The one who would free the Jews from the rule and oppression of the Romans, the One who would be the King of Jerusalem and make all the wrong things right. They expected Jesus to take His throne then, and to rule as King.

Imagine their disappointment when the One they had put all their hope in for freedom and deliverance was being crucified on a tree, dying a criminals death.

All of their hope was dashed, all of their hope for a better future destroyed, and sadness and confusion must have rested on them like thick darkness.

The disillusionment they must have felt must have been unbearable. The hope for their future, the One they loved was now dead.

It would have brought up so many questions, did Jesus lie to us? Wait I thought He was the Messiah? I thought He was the One we have been waiting for?

I’m sure the disciples were faced with so much confusion. “Wait a minute, this isn’t how the story is supposed to end!”

Have you ever felt like the disciples? Have you ever felt confused and disillusioned because Jesus wasn’t coming through for you in the way you hoped?

Ya, me too.

But what I believe we can learn from the events that unfold in the gospel account is that what was happening was exactly what God had wanted to happen.

God’s perspective was far greater than the disciples.

God knew that from death would come life, life not just for the disciples but for all mankind.

It was in a time of great disappointment and disillusionment that true hope and life came forth. When the darkness was thick, and the world thought Jesus was dead, resurrection life was coming forth.

Three days later Jesus rose again, and destroyed death and hopelessness of any kind forever.

If Jesus can be raised from the dead, do you think He is able to bring life into the areas that you may currently feel are hopeless?

I do.

Because of the resurrection of Jesus all hopelessness was destroyed, and He gave hope back to the hearts of the disciples and all who would follow them.

What I think this story portrays is that sometimes we lose hope because God doesn’t come through in a way we think He is going to.

We expect Him to answer our prayers in a certain way or in a specific time frame, and when He doesn’t we lose hope, when in reality He may be bringing the answer in a way we do not expect.

We need to be careful to not lose heart in the midst of hard circumstances or times of darkness, because guaranteed, God is working out a way to bring life even from what you think is dead.

We need to place our hope IN HIM, not in our circumstances, and trust His leadership that He really will work out all things in our life for our good and for His glory.

Romans 8:28 “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good for those who are called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28)

I believe we need to surrender to Him the way we think it’s all going to play out, and truly place all our hope, all our confidence in His character and nature.

In Christ we can have hope for our futures, hope because He is filled with hope, and hope because He is leading us to the final day when everything we have ever  hoped for will finally be found- in the new Jerusalem.

Revelation 21.

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”

We can be people of hope because we can have confidence that our ultimate future is secure and is good.

If you’re like me sometimes you need to remind your soul to Hope in God! Read Psalm 42 over your own soul today until your soul starts to hope again!

Psalm 42 says,

“Why are you cast down, O my soul,

and why are you in turmoil within me?

Hope in God; for I shall again praise him,

my salvation and my God.”

 

Let’s be people who live full of Hope, full of faith, trusting in the goodness and kindness of Jesus. He is good, and we can put all our hope in Him!

 

 

What does it mean to go deep in God?

deep

Lately I have been reflecting on… what does it mean to go deep in God?

At the end of my life I want it to be said of me, that I was a woman that walked with God, that knew His heart and expressed His heart to others. I want to be deep, and not shallow in the ways of the heart and in the ways of God.

I used to think going deep in God was something you signed up for at a conference or an event, or was proved by an extravagant act of giving or serving.

The more I live life though I am learning that depth in God is something that you don’t get on the run. It’s not something you get at the conference with thousands of other people (though I do enjoy those) but it’s what you do after the conference is over.

It’s the choices you make day by day in the mundane when the bright lights and loud music have ceased, when the crowd is gone, and the only person who truly sees your heart is Jesus.

Depth comes from saying yes to God over, and over and over again in the good times and in the really hard times.

It means loving Him for who He is and not for what He can give you.

I realized a lot of my life I loved God for what He could give me, bless me with, or for how he could make my life better. I was in it for me, not for Him.

The more I journey with God and the more I choose Him even when it’s hard and I don’t understand exactly what He’s doing I have found that somewhere in my seeking Him to get stuff for myself, He actually won my heart.

I began to love Him for simply just who He is.

In one of the darkest times of my life several years ago when it seemed like everything had fallen apart, I realized I still loved Him. In that moment when I thought I had nothing, I realized I actually had everything.

I had Jesus.

The people I look up to the most, are those that have depth, who have chosen God day after day faithfully for decades. They haven’t given up.

They are people that love God for real, and have not allowed the disappointments and set backs in life to close up and harden their hearts.  They continually say yes to Jesus when it’s easy, and when it’s really hard.

They have remained unoffended at the leadership of Jesus.

The people I look up to the most are those that I have known who are the same on the platform as they are off.

They are those that love their spouses well, walk in humility and love their children with crazy extravagant love.

People who are deep have chosen to not let life harden them, but have taken the time to sit and listen to the voice of God, to be in His Word, and to then walk it out in simple obedience with authenticity.

It’s something so rare and so precious, and so valuable I believe because it’s something that is cultivated through consistency and longevity- not something that is just received instantly.

Depth comes through walking with God through every season, consistently over time.

This is what I am signing up for.

At 29, I am resigning up to know God and to know His heart. I’m resigning up to go deep.

I want to be 89 and have a rich history with Him that carries over into the age to come, when all my small choices on this side that seemed so boring or so insignificant are revealed as precious and invaluable on the day when I see His face.